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Weekly Musings #25 - Welcome to 2005
Author: Michael Ahlf 
Date: January 3rd 2004

Welcome to 2004, the Sequel... I mean, 2005.

Looking back, 2004 was a great year for gaming. So, like everyone else, I'm going to enjoy some highlights time, some time to reflect on what we got, and didn't get.

For starters, we were given tons of big-name sequel titles. Half-Life 2 finally came. Doom III finally came. Both of them were big, and nicely done. Doom III wasn't as much a spiritual follower of its predecessors - that is reserved for the lesser-known title Painkiller - but it was still fun, and ran amazingly well on relatively modest hardware. Knights of the Old Republic II was glorious to behold, and play through. Tony Hawk's Underground 2 managed to improve on what was almost a perfect formula, but lost something in the elimination of "flatland" tricks... admittedly rebalancing the game, since Flatland was too easily exploitable for high point value combos in multiplayer.

MechAssault 2 was a steaming pile of bear poop with a side order of cow manure, released just in time to be considered a 2004 game.

Nintendo gave gamers the DS late in the year, an amazingly cool device so far. I can't wait for more games to come out for it. I'm especially praying that they release a port of F-Zero X, to take advantage of the wireless head-to-head play. Meanwhile, the remake of Super Mario 64 is stunning, stupendous, incredibly well completed. I was worried about the game's addition of new characters screwing it up, or their being superfluous, but it really works amazingly well, and showcases how much better 64 was than its followup, Super Mario Sunshine.

At 8:15 on the 9th of September 2004, Gabe, over at Penny Arcade, became the proud father of an unbelievably cute baby boy. Yeah, I know it's not specifically a gaming moment - but I've been reading these guys since they published their first strip, and it's an amazing thing. Congratulations once again to him and to his wife.

2004 was the first full year of Athlon64 availability. The chipset designers still haven't gotten everything right, Socket 939 is still too expensive... but it'll happen. Sometimes good things, like a major box upgrade (which will likely involve reinstalling my OS), are worth waiting for. 

The United States held this thing called a "Presidential Election." Two months later, our political wonks still haven't given up complaining about the one back in 2000, and the rest of us just wish we could take all the politicians and ship them off to parts unknown so we can get on with our lives.

Game designers were hard at work proving to us that... well... the industry really hasn't changed all THAT much. Hype was everywhere, especially about systems that we won't see until the end of this year (or even longer). Nintendo's committed to running their "Revolution" system alongside the Gamecube, the PS2 won't be seen until 2006, but Microsoft's promising us the Xbox in late 2005. We'll see how it goes. If it's not backwards compatible with original Xbox games, I'll be very hesitant to buy one.

We still don't have Duke Nukem Forever. Face it, guys: this game was vaporware back before Daikatana released. Now, it's looking like the only way we'll see it is if 3DRealms declares bankruptcy and someone else gets the source code at auction. If they even want to spend the money getting it releaseworthy, that is.

On the upside, 2005 looks good so far. We have a good number of high profile titles on the way, a sure bet on some Katamari Damacy-style sleeper hits. At the end of this month, for starters, we get the next Oddworld title. Later in the year, I finally get Conker's Bad Fur Day remade for the Xbox.

The mascots got salmon flavored kitty treats. With more to follow if they behave themselves.

Happy New Year!

Got Comments? Send 'em to Michael (at) Glideunderground.com!
Alternatively, post 'em right here for everyone to see!

Weekly Musings #25: Welcome to 2005


Added:  Monday, January 03, 2005
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf

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